“This may be the most surprising news of the evening,” Capcom R&D head Keiji Inafune said last night. And then he unveiled DMC: Devil May Cry, a reboot of the iconic hack-and-slash series. Inafune might have oversold it: A Devil May Cry sequel is not exactly a shock that’s going to turn the industry on its head.
Still, there were some unexpected twists in the details revealed at Capcom’s pre-TGS event. The first surprise was that yes, this is a reboot. That might be a wise decision given that the series that was starting to get a little gray around the ears—not to mention overshadowed by the God of War games that have built on some of Devil May Cry’s design cues.
Appropriately enough for this rejuvenating rebirth, DMC will star a younger Dante—one who, judging by the trailer that Inafune premiered last night, is dealing with some heavy baggage. The trailer cuts between two scenes. In one, a shackled Dante dangles from the ceiling in a dingy tiled room while an administrator from a “young offenders rehabilitation program” demands to know his name. Dante refuses to answer, but a glimpse of his eye tell us that his emotional state is vacillating between “furious” and “no, really, quite angry.” Cut to an exterior scene—presumably a gameplay demo—and our hero releases all that pent-up rage on a gang of demons who just happened to be in the wrong parking lot at the wrong time.
The second surprise was that the game is being developed by what seems to be a team of millions, with few of the names that you might expect. Chief among them is Capcom Entertainment, Inc., the company’s San Mateo, Calif., division that is taking the lead on this project.
“You may be saying, ‘Wait a minute, Capcom USA heading up a game? I’m not sure I like this idea,” Inafune said—with lead CEI producer Alex Jones standing right next to him, no less. “But over the last year,” Inafune continued, “my reach has expanded beyond Japan. I’m now head of global R&D. … Alex works directly for me.” You get the sense that Inafune is something of a control freak? Yeah, a little bit.
Jones has to coordinate a global operation that includes not only his own team in California and Inafune’s crew in Japan, but also Ninja Theory, the development house in Cambridge, England, that’s responsible for Heavenly Sword and the upcoming Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. There’s a lot of chefs in the kitchen, but Capcom executive Kideaki Itsuno said that the diversity of perspectives is a good thing: “One thing we’ve learned in working with Ninja Theory is that they have a good sense of ‘cool’ that we don’t have on our side.”
Whether the new Dante will be accepted as “cool” or not remains to be seen, but he is different. Gone is the gray-haired silver fox of previous Devil May Cry games, replaced with a younger model whose chest-baring T-shirt, low-hanging cigarette, and perma-scowl suggest a touch of emo.
If you fear change, don’t worry—“we want to keep the essence of the gameplay,” said Ninja Theory creative director Tameem Antoniades. Translation: Dante’s no wallflower. And this was evident in the trailer. For instance, that long, thin, oh-so-cool cancer stick dangling from Dante’s mouth? At one point, he puts it out in the eye of an approaching demon. And then he stretches out a massive tentacle to hurl a car at another group of hideous ghouls. So yeah, he might look a little Rufus Wainwright-y, but this new Dante isn’t going to be sulking over his chai tea at the corner café.
Inafune was cagey on release dates—“too early to talk about anything like that”—and likewise for expected platforms. It’s still early. If we see the game before 2012, that would be the biggest surprise of all.